Today’s ride from Brugge to Antwerp was much easier than the ride from Calais to Brugge. It helped that it was about 10 miles shorter (66 miles) and that we had rested and that we had the wind at our backs. The trails were good, with a few well groomed single tracks, and the weather was almost perfect at 75 degrees. Because it was a Saturday, we saw a lot more bikers.
Riding in Belgium and Holland requires a stable ego. Imagine riding along in your spandex kit, on an expensive engineering masterpiece, working hard, high heart rate, sweat dripping off your face, only to be passed by a 70-year-old lady on a 3-speed wearing a skirt, sitting straight up in the least dynamic position possible, with a big front bike basket where her dog is sitting, and she’s toodling along with no more exertion on her face than she does when playing bridge and drinking tea. I find it best in such situations to pretend I’m lost.
Americans are weird. We’re way too concerned about riding faster than someone else. It drives me nuts to get passed by someone on the way home from work. It’s like they are challenging my human worth. Over here the speed you go is more a sign of how fast you need to be somewhere than it is an indicator of your physical prowess. It’s kind of like when you see someone in a hurry shopping at the grocery store. You don’t think: wow, that person is a really strong shopper, I wonder how they would do at Costco… You think they must be in a hurry.
Back to today’s ride…. We had our first major drawbridge, saw a tandem hand bike, had several happy interactions with others on the road, and managed not to get lost, although we came close. GPS navigation lady led us to the banks of the river Schelde and directed us to ride in. We were in the process of rerouting ourselves when a kind elderly couple pointed out the 0.5 km pedestrian/bike tunnel under the river. Of course there would be a tunnel under the river…. It was a great route into the city center.
Our house tonight is another Airbnb. This one we don’t have to share with the owner. We have the apartment to ourselves. We went and shopped for the next two days, cooked a big meal, and are now winding down. Tomorrow we go to church and then will walk around the city center of Antwerp.